<p><strong>Independence Day <a href="http://www.pbs.org/a-capitol-fourth/history/history-independence-day/">got its start in Philadelphia in 1777</a>. The city recognized the one-year anniversary of Congress's formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence by lighting bonfires, ringing bells, and setting off fireworks on July 4. In later years, other cities followed suit.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Since then, communities across the United States have celebrated America's independence in their own distinct ways. Washington, D.C., marked July 4, 1919, with a Festival of Peace that came shortly after the <a href="http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005425">signing of the Treaty of Versailles</a>, which formally ended World War I.</p><p>The celebration featured music and parades, and it drew people representing dozens of nations from around the world. A National Geographic Society float, above, was part of the festivities.</p><p><em>—Jane J. Lee</em></p>

Festival of Peace

Independence Day got its start in Philadelphia in 1777. The city recognized the one-year anniversary of Congress's formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence by lighting bonfires, ringing bells, and setting off fireworks on July 4. In later years, other cities followed suit.

Since then, communities across the United States have celebrated America's independence in their own distinct ways. Washington, D.C., marked July 4, 1919, with a Festival of Peace that came shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended World War I.

The celebration featured music and parades, and it drew people representing dozens of nations from around the world. A National Geographic Society float, above, was part of the festivities.

—Jane J. Lee

PHOTOGRAPH BY CHARLES MARTIN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

Pictures: Celebrating the Fourth of July and America

A patriotic pup takes flight, fireworks light up the night, and flags flutter in the wind.

Read This Next

The most ancient galaxies in the universe are coming into view
‘Microclots’ could help solve the long COVID puzzle
How Spain’s lust for gold doomed the Inca Empire

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet